Most of us today take the fact that we have access to electricity for granted. We don’t think too much about the intense work involved in the process of providing electricity to individuals and cities. Power plants are complex operations that are required for the production of electricity. They come in all sizes, but all share one common element. They all require employees that possess the knowledge and training needed to operate the complex machines housed in these plants.
There are three types of employees at most power plants. Operators make important decisions regarding the use of boilers and generators and also usually handle the upkeep of these machines. Distributors control the flow of electricity. Dispatchers decide where the electricity must go and how much is needed to keep everything running at optimal level. Dispatchers must be able to anticipate the needs of the area that the power plant serves. Because we all rely on electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, power plants never shut down and must have workers present at all times.
Asbestos and Power Plants
Heat is a constant component of a power plant. An outbreak of a fire is the most disastrous event that can occur within a power plant, putting the lives of employees at risk and crippling affected communities for many years to come. Because of the concern over possible fire outbreaks, asbestos was frequently used in power plants in the past. It was most commonly used as insulation and in gaskets. The mere presence of asbestos does not necessarily present a danger. However, when it is disturbed and becomes airborne, it becomes possible for individuals to inhale tiny particles. The use and upkeep of generators and boilers often required hammering, drilling, or cutting through existing insulation. This would frequently release dangerous particles of asbestos into the air.
Many people who worked in power plants will attest to the presence of asbestos dust. In fact, the floors of such plants were grated to allow the dust to pass through. In spite of the presence of asbestos, workers were not usually given masks to prevent the inhalation of it. Out of those who were given protective gear, many times the protective gear itself contained asbestos, causing further exposure. Sadly, many of the country’s power plants still contain asbestos, many times due to lack of money to allow for the removal of hazardous material.